The debate over the institution of slavery is a primary reason that led the United States into the bloodiest war in it’s history. At the core of this war, were African Americans and equality. Victimized by the shackles of slavery, the treatment of African Americans has been an elephant in the room throughout American history. This precedent was key during the Civil War. Due to slavery, blacks were prevalent in the armies of the South as labor or servants, but after the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, blacks were volunteering to join the Union forces at an alarming rate. This rampant enlistment, played a vital role in the Union’s victory. Black regiments, like the Massachusetts 54th, were well known for their heroism and valor in many Union victories.
Yet, what fueled African Americans to fight for a country that had treated them with inequality and enslavement was the promise of freedom. The emancipation proclamation promised freedom for blacks. It proclaimed to all blacks that enlisted into the Union army, that after a contract of service, that they would be considered free men and considered citizens. The text list that I compiled is full of primary sources, artwork, books, and websites that tackle this dominant theme of the Civil War: Blacks and Emancipation.
These texts cover the relationship between emancipation and the historical significance of black soldiers. I chose this theme to be used within an eleventh grade history classroom. The reason why I decided to integrate this theme in an eleventh grade classroom is because it shows a social connection between the Civil War and civil rights. It asks students to analyze the significance of African American soldiers and their role in race relations. The Civil War is covered in eighth and eleventh grade social studies classrooms, but I feel that this theme is not suitable for eight grade because eighth grade classrooms only go up to the Civil War in their standards. Whereas, eleventh grade social studies classrooms cover all of U.S. history until the 21st century. This allows them to delve deeper into the importance of black soldiers and the impact that they had on racism in America, and their impact for future civil rights.
Annotated Text List
1. Zwick, Edward. (Director) & Fields, Freddie. (Producer), 1989. Glory [Movie]. Tri-Star Pictures.
This movie provides an accurate visual depiction of the all black Massachusetts 54th regiment that was led by Colonel Robert Shaw. The director follows the regiment from their beginning, to their final battle at Battery Wagner. This visual text does a very good job portraying the inequalities and aspirations of black soldiers who joined the Union. It shows the maltreatment they faced, in regards to payment, supplies, and orders. As well as their hopes and dreams of freedom, as a result of their service. According to the 10 Factors of Text Assessment by Graves, this text would be appropriate for 11th grade students. This is because of the graphic nature of scenes, the length of the movie, and how the movie elaborates more about black soldiers and their role in altering the views towards African Americans. This text would be useful to show what black soldiers went through, also how their impact was so essential that a movie was created for them.
Democratic Vistas: Civic Life, History, and American Art. “Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial.” November 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZ6pJ0HlXtA
This video clip shows a tour guide explaining the historical significance of black soldiers to a group visiting the Robert Shaw memorial. The guide explains the importance of Shaw himself and the societal importance of the his all black regiment. I would use this tour guides lecture as a supplemental piece to show the importance of the Massachusetts 54th by how they were immortalized in a national memorial with the Colonel, at his...
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